Saturday March 22, 2014

Peacocks Give A Hoot About Sex

Peacock peahen

A peacock mounts a peahen. (Roslyn Dakin)

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Peacocks - the male of the peafowl species - are best known for their colourful eye-spotted feathers, used in the courtship ritual. But when they are in the presence of a potential mate - a peahen - the male emits a loud hoot or squeal-type sound to signal his intentions, as he rushes toward her. But a new study by Dr. Roslyn Dakin from the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has found that some peacocks use this sound in a deceptive way. They make this call even when they are alone, in the hopes that a peahen will hear it and seek out what she thinks is a sexually active and. therefore. worthy mate. However, males run the risk of being ignored if the female learns the dishonesty from hearing the sound too many times.

Related Links

  • Paper in The American Naturalist
  • American Naturalist news
  • BBC News story
  • Smithsonian Magazine story